Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More rust

We were at the Bradford Industrial Museum last Saturday, and I spotted a couple of chunks of rusting ironwork that I hadn't noticed before.

So, to celebrate 29th February with a quick post - some images.

I've had a message from a SOAR friend about dyeing with rust, but it involves wrapping the rusted object in fabric - silk for best results - and leaving for a while (yes, I know, other steps, but I'm short-handing). I would love to do this! Unfortunately, all the lovely rusty things I have been seeing are on large objects that couldn't be moved, or wrapped in silk for any time or even at all. Thinking cap on....

I have finished the second mitten, and I found to my amazement that when I pressed them, what I had thought was me pulling the stitches too tight was no such thing. They have flattened out beautifully.

Of course, that does mean that all the mistakes are showing up rather nmore.

What the heck, I love 'em.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whitefaced Woodland (and the Way of the World)

I've finally begun the spinalong. We (this means the DSM and those members of the AH class that want to join in) started with Whitefaced Woodland as I knew that it would be easy to get both fleece and roving from a reliable source.

So, this is a lock from the fleece sample that I had.

Although the DSM and I shared one handful, the way it fell out was that the locks in mine were all pretty uniform, while his varied quite a bit. I'm not too concerned about this as I know that Whitefaced Woodland is a variable fleece anyway. My sample was on the edge of what I consider suitable for carding, ie around four inches. So I decided to begin by combing a little of the fleece.

First with a dog comb:

Then with my Forsyth hand combs:

Two small samples - the one on the right is dog combed, on the left, hand combed.

I also had a sample of carded roving, which I am quite familiar with, so I first played with spinning as fine a yarn as I could manage, using a forward short draw. I didn't really push it, and came up with something that would certainly knit as lace. Maybe not a scarf, a bit too scratchy, but a shawl would be ok - you would get a nice, crisp stitch definition.

The second half of the sample I spun as I have done quite a lot before, that is with an extended draw. This makes a good bouncy yarn that is excellent for not next to the skin sweaters &etc.

Fine sample top left.

Having some of the fleece left, I reckoned that it was worth trying it carded, although I would not usually do this. It was just ok to card.

Too long a staple to do a traditional English long draw, so I used an extended draw again. I often have problems with spinning a consistent yarn with this method, and with hand carded fleece, this inconsistency is very evident.

I'm a great fan of Whitefaced Woodland, so I was predisposed to give a favourable assessment of this first fibre. It generally has at least a medium length staple, little to no crimp, just a gentle wave, and the merest hint of lustre. Not really all that noticeable, but if you do an actual or mental comparison with a down fibre, I reckon that there is a hint. Nice crisp fibre, good for knitting all sorts of things, and I do know from previous experience that it dyes very well.

You will see from my photographs that I didn't organise my samples in a very sophisticated way. The DSM was much better, and prepared a card to fasten his to; and I was delighted to see that the class members who had taken part had been even more organised.

I will do better next time!

I was also very pleased to see that more of the AH class are going to take part in the next round, which will be Navajo Churro. Seems that I am not the only one enjoying this.

The other WW - Congreve's Way of the World. We went to see this at the Sheffield Crucible on Wednesday. There seems so rarely to be an opportunity to see Restoration drama/comedy, and I do try to grab every one that comes along. Sheffield isn't all that far to go, and the Crucible has a great standard.

This didn't disappoint. Now, I have never seen a production of this play before, so I am slightly handicapped in making a truly informed judgment. It was not done entirely "straight". It was a little hard to tell as the play started just what the idea was, but it became obvious, and to my mind worked extremely well. An intro of a group of "celebs" being videoed, photographed etc, all in modern dress gave way to the characters in the drama in costumes that were more or less modern but clearly suggested period. The set was open, mainly white (cleverly, when there was colour it was strongly echoed in the costumes), pretty minimalist (yeay!!) So it was a nice blending of the original with the modern (giving an opportunity for many of the cast to sport some wicked shoes!)

The players took it at a very fast lick, which did mean those of us unfamiliar with the work had to put in a fair amount of effort to keep up with everything, but that was ok. The cast were great, particularly Mirabell, who had a terrific stage presence - I was staggered to see that this was his first stage performance (he had done quite a bit of film and TV work). Basically - if you hadn't noticed - I really enjoyed it. Just wish I could get to London to see The Recruiting Officer, but I can't have everything!

OK, more knitting to be done if I want my mittens finished by next Sunday (they will be).

But, more later.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nice things

The following is a terrible photograph. But I just wandered in to the bathroom with my camera - as you do - and for the nth time had my heart lifted by this view of our little bit of garden. And yes, aforementioned is at the same level as upstairs.

We have had a few fine days recently, and the DSM has been living up to his name. He is a Vegetable Man (vegetable love....??) at heart, but he does know that I love the ornamental, and have a small yearning for a garden full of beautiful flowers. This is extremely difficult to achieve in our garden, due to it being practically in the woods, somewhat damp, full of slugs, and at a slightly raised elevation sufficient to make growing conditions less than optimal. But this year, as he is coming to very happy terms with retirement, he decided to start on the flower bit first, and even to weed the gravel path, something that has not been done for...a number of years. This means that I have an uninteruppted view of the snowdrops and some of the hellebores, two major favourites of mine.

It is pouring with rain again today, so I declined to go outside and up on to the garden to take the photo, hence the poor quality through a window on quite a big zoom.

I may even get out there and do some work myself if it isn't such a depressing experience with all the weeds and crap removed. That's just on the ornamental bit - the veggie garden generally looks pretty spic and span. And I do see that veggies are more important. (I just wish we could get pak choi to grow - managed it one year and then not again.)


My gateway drug. First mitten finished. Please note the major error right in the centre of the patterned bit - quite unmissable. But I am very proud of it and myself, and can easily live with all the many mistakes (you should see the palm!) The second one is on the needles and growing, and already there is an improvement. I'm still clumsy with yarn carried on my left hand, but I'm getting there, too.

As I said before, I have yarn lined up for two or three more pairs of mittens, and am constantly thinking of further projects I might try. Not a sweater, at least not yet. I'm not that daft.

So hat and mittens are all going to be finished for Our Canadian Adventure. A simple scarf is on the needles to coordinate, but it will make good travel knotting if it isn't finished. Very nice looking fabric but deadly dull to do - sl1 wyif, k3 ad nauseam. What on earth is happening to me? Am I turning in to a knitter?

The last booking for the trip has been made. Now I just have to finalise exactly when and where we meet up with my goddaughter and her visiting mum. I'm getting excited.

And according to Google, there are a lot of yarn shops in Montreal (in Quebec, not so many, seemingly). Oh dear.

Right, off to spin a bit, I think. I have some very pretty camel and silk on the Timbertops that is very nearly finished and then has to be chain-plyed. Then knitted into a lacey-ish scarf (I mustn't get too carried away.....)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


For a long time now, I have been fascinated by rusting surfaces. I look at them, and think "modern art" - not to mention just how I could use any images as inspiration for some kind of fibre or mixed media work.

In places close to the sea, there is always a photo opportunity - the moist, salt air seems to act in a particularly vigorous way on the many metal surfaces around.

From last week's Cornwall trip, a few new ones for the collection:

This last is my favourite from this time out. Not just for the colours and appearance - when I dashed across a narrow street in St Ives to grab it, there was a young woman in the adjacent doorway also with a camera. I grinned at her, she grinned back, and said to me "Yes - it is a wonderful texture, isn't it!" I do love random incidences of kindred spirits.

We were stuck in traffic in Mytholmroyd yesterday afternoon on our way to Leeds for a night at the opera, when I spotted another great example of rust. I am going to have to be brave and go back with my camera and make a total fool of myself grovelling down on the pavement and cuddling up close to what I think was the base of a street lamp - and I still have the problem of how to use these as inspirations!

The opera was wonderful. It was Bellini's "Norma" which I have never seen before, and I was keen to. I am not the hugest fan of bel canto, but "Norma" has almost mythic status, not least because it was a Callas speciality. Well, that figures.....anyway, I did retain some reservations in the first act, although enjoying the lush music. But it caught fire (oh, please excuse me!) in the second act, when the eponymous soprano really took dramatic flight and swept us all along with her. Superb voice, used with superb passion. I don't think that I have ever heard so much applause at Opera North before.

Maybe a few more photos to come. Maybe a finally finished mitten, and maybe some investigative spinning. There's plenty going on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bird post

I had intended to do one post for all of the Cornwall week, but that ain't gonna work. Just too many photos, don't want to crash everyone's systems!

So, OK. It was a very good week, nice weather, except for the last day when it rained, so we missed all the fun of the snow and ice in the frozen north.

We spent quite a lot of time wandering around showing my sister some of our favourite places, and discovering a couple of new ones, of which more later. Our cameras went with us, and we caused a fair bit of amusement in all sorts of places by bird stalking and other weird things.

So, first up - and hence the title - birds.

Laid-back swan at Mevagissey harbour.

I'm young, therefore I must be cute.....

We may be all grown up, but we are still damn photogenic!

These are turnstones, which used to seen mainly on beaches, rocks, etc, but must have been watching the success of the herring gulls. They now regularly perform on harbours, looking for unsuitable food. The three of us spent ages trying to get them to get into good positions, and the little buggers just kept on running around.

And this little chap? Well, starlings may be common as muck, but it would have to be a really hard-hearted soul to resist this charm.

A fair bit of knitting was done, of which there will be more later in my case, when I have redone the bit I just frogged....well, I'll talk about it another time.

So, a couple of very nice yarn shops were visited. I was fairly good, and just bought yarn for more colourwork mittens, to which I may be addicted. But next door to one of the yarn shops was an extremely nice cafe, and though we had brought sandwiches, we were in dire need of hot coffee and a loo, and the menu looked so good that we just sort of....had lunch there. Including, in the case of the DSM and myself, some of these, the specialite du maison (or should that be de la? My French is sooooo rusty, and I am going to have to drag it out into use again soon!)

I reckon the flying fairy warrants including this in a bird post, eh!

More anon.